Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Morning So Far




Hello. This will be funny to you. It was not so funny to me, but I thought someone should get some enjoyment out of my experiences.

Sometime in the pre-dawn hours, I hear the hacking of a hairball about to come up on the pillow next to me. I realize Pete, our 16 year old tuxedo cat, is in bed with us. I say, "Pete, don't puke in the bed." For some reason, this always works and he stops. I fall back asleep.

I am awakened again, still pre-dawn, by what feels like a furry finger across one of my eyes and the bridge of my nose. I hear a furious licking.  Pete has decided it is time for a pre-dawn bath and has thrown a leg over my face in his bathing contortions. He finishes his bath and gets under the covers between me and Bart.
We now have Killer and our new dog, Lucky, at the foot of the bed and Pete between us. The queen size bed is getting smaller by the minute. I fall back asleep, again.

Still pre-dawn, I am awakened by the phone ringing. This, of course, makes my heart race. Who's dead? Who's been in an accident? Pre-dawn phone calls are never good.
I did notice, as I leapt out of bed, it was 7:00 a.m. I see on the caller ID that it's State Farm Insurance. No doubt my East Coast agent who still has my property there insured. Even though I certainly don't want to talk business at this hour, I answer the phone so that the ringing doesn't wake-up Coffee aka Bark-o-matic.
The cheery receptionist, Brittany, says, "Good morning Cowgirl Domino." I interrupt her and say, "It is 7 a.m. in the Northwest." She says, "I beg your pardon?" Apparently she has dialed my area code without the faintest thought that that is not a local area code and no occurrence that maybe she should look it up before dialing.
I say again, "I live in the Northwest now and it is 7 a.m. here." This does not slow cheerful Brittany down one bit, "Well, we see your p.o. box has expired and we need your new address." Now, how they have my new phone number and not my address, yet I still get correspondence from them is beyond me; but I'm too sleepy to articulate all of this, so I give her the new p.o. box. I go back to sleep for the third time.

The final awakening is at 8:10 a.m. At least the sun is just now coming up. It is Coffee in full Bark-o-matic mode and 20 minutes early. This gives Lucky the cue that it's time to greet us with his morning exuberance.
Lucky does mornings like no one else can. Sometime in the past hour since cheerful Brittany called, Lucky has gotten off the bed and started entertaining himself with looking out the window.
 
Once Coffee sounds the morning alarm, he leaps into the middle of the bed. I reach up, my eyes still closed, and rub his chest. I say, "Lay down, Lucky." He flops, all 56 lbs of himself, down on my leg and drops his head on my hip. He begins licking my hand.

Then, he decides "Daddy" really needs some morning kisses, too. So, he stands up, approaches Bart, and begins licking him full force all over his face. I roll over and say to Bart, I'm just laughing out loud at this point in the absurdity,"It's like having a pack of 3 year olds sleeping with us." To which Bart responds, "Three year olds get up earlier."  Bart, who can sleep through anything, has missed all of this up to the 7 a.m. phone call from cheerful Brittany.

Lucky then leaps off of the bed again and begins playing fetch with himself. He accomplishes this by taking a ball in his mouth, tossing it across the room, bouncing it off of furniture, and then chasing it. This sequence repeats itself many times. It is not a quiet process, but Lucky enjoys it. It makes him so happy, I cannot tell him to stop.

I gave up on sleeping until 8:30. We got up.  Bart took everyone out. I made everyone breakfast, including Bart,  give Pete hairball medicine, and here we are. Hope you had a laugh!
As most people know, I am not a morning person. And, as my friends know, I have been off of caffeine for a year and a half. Right now, I really miss coffee and diet coke!

Have a good day,
Cowgirl Domino

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Change

Hello gentle readers.  It's been 7 months since my last blog post.  Sorry about that!

In that time, I've had quite the adventure.  My health was in far worse shape than I posted.  One of my doctors  looked at me in June & said, "You realize you almost died." 

That's the second time that's happened in six years. First, with my accident with Tar. The second time was this spring.  It was adrenal failure that brought down my entire endocrine system.  It's bad stuff, let me tell you!

So, I took stock.  I decided it was time to slow down & enjoy life.  I've been a workaholic my entire adult life.  And, I've almost died twice. I'm just over 40.  Maybe God was trying to tell me something?

The farm I've written so much about is on the market now.  In the meantime, the crew and I have moved cross-country to our new farm.  It's more acerage, but a personal operation now versus a commercial one. 

Dod & Julie have moved to Africa.  Ruthie to Austrailia.  Rose is still in graduate school.  It's been a time for much change for all of the crew at the farm.

As for the animals, Bart, & me, we are in a completely different climate & nearly 3000 miles away from what was home my entire life.  What was I thinking?

Well, on the recommendation of a friend, I came here to see two doctors.  They are the ones who brought me back to life.  During that time, I fell in love with this place that is still very much an American frontier.

This is a place that is still of cowboys & Indians. It is a place where people still take you at your word.  Where people are truly kind & helpful to their neighbors.  We have been taken in as one with our new community.  We are grateful to be here.

The wilderness is very much a part of our lives.  There are deer, wild turkeys, coyotes, & bear on our property. I'm told later in the winter the elk will join us, too! And, thanks to our new friends, there's elk, moose, & huckleberries in the freezer, too!

It's time to go & feed the animals.  We'll be checking in with you to share this new chapter in our lives.  Take care & thanks for continuing to read.

Cowgirl Domino

Monday, May 9, 2011

Adventure on the Horizon

Hello readers. There is an adventure on my horizon. I hope it will bring me back to writing you regular postcards soon.

It is amazing the lengths I will go to to get well again. I'm not ready to give up. I'm just not sure that's part of my personality, afterall.

My staff, family, Bart and the animals are keeping things going; as are different friends who are helping out.

Look forward to seeing you soon. Sure am glad I have a comfortable bed if I'm going to spend this much time in it!

Take care. Thanks for checking in.

Cowgirl Domino, Spot and the gang

Friday, April 29, 2011

Not Dead Yet!

Hey folks. I hope at least a few of you are still checking the blog. I'm not dead yet, but will be out of comission a while longer. I'll post as I can.

Don't worry too much. I'll be ok in a little while. Besides, I'm definately too stubborn to quit! I am a cowgirl afterall!

Thanks for your support. Coming to you flat on my back in bed. Thank God for my Blackberry, my family (humans and animals), my friends, my clients, and my herd of little Christians! Spot has , of course, not let my side. Thank God especially for Spot!

Talk to you soon.

Cowgirl Domino

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rush To Judgment

Let me emphasize this entry is about horses, although I will also tell you what this day means to Christians.  I have a whole herd of little Christians around me on the farm. It astounds me that not all of them know the significance of this day.

I'm a wayward anything, by anyone's standards and even I know this stuff. Not today, nor on Easter Sunday, will I be in church.  I don't have anything against most churches; it's just a necessary fact of my life that I work on weekends.

My farm is a holier place for me than church, to tell you the truth.  If caring for God's creatures isn't holy, I don't know what is. I know what is in my heart and so does God.  So, I really don't care what you believe or what you think of me. Are you getting good and confused?  It's ok.  Keep reading.  You'll get it.

Again, this is not a religious entry although I have carefully chosen the Christian Good Friday for it.  For those of you unfamiliar with the meaning of Good Friday, it is the day Jesus was crucified and died.  Without Good Friday, there would be no Easter Sunday.

For Christians, Easter Sunday is the day Jesus rose again and then ascended into Heaven.  It is through His death on Good Friday, through what many would say was a rash judgment by Pontius Pilot, that "saved" Christians from going to Hell.  These are simply facts of the Christian belief system.

I am not arguing it either way to you. This is about horses not religion.  It is merely an appropriate day for me to ask you to consider your own rush to judgment.

This is a long entry.  This may be a difficult entry for you to read.  If you say you love horses, please read it.  It is one of the important lessons I will impart.  It is a decision that faces many horse owners in a bad economy.

Thank God, it hasn't been me.  Always realize: There but for the grace of God go I. Again, this is not a religious entry.  It is still important.

Although what I've written may be difficult, and may make you cry, read it all the way through anyway.  Hear me out to the end, please.  It made me cry writing it, as a matter of  fact.  But, this is a fact you need to know.  It took me a long time to realize it, too.

Ok, so let's get on with it.  Bring the pain, as some would say.  Well, that's appropriate for Good Friday, too.  As my mother, the religious scholar of our family, says, "Good Friday is a sad and painful day."  Well, here we go.  No, don't stop now.  Keep going.  Just like Easter it has a happy ending.  I'm not giving you any chocolate Easter bunnies or jelly beans, don't get that excited.

In this economy, let me take a minute to take-up for some horse owners who are not bad people or unskilled owners.  Right now, there are a lot of people who own horses who can't afford to own them.  Maybe they could afford to care for them in the beginning, but now they can't.  They can't sell them either.  This is a bad economy for horses and people.

There's no market to sell horses now.  Sometimes you're literally giving away a high price horse just to get it off your hands.  I've found homes for horses like these when I was asked to help by complete strangers.  I did it for the horses not the people.  I'm out of options to find homes for horses now.  Like I said, it's a bad economy for horses and people.

When these well intentioned people run out of money, their horses suffer.  They can't feed them as much or at all.  They can't worm them.  They can't afford to call the vet to take care of them.  Sometimes, they can't even afford to put them to sleep.

There are still a few "kill markets" open that slaughter horses.  Some pet products and garden products come from these slaughter houses.  Where do you think "bone meal" and "blood meal" come from in the garden department?  It's not synthetic, folks.  It's some sort of livestock, sometimes, horses.

A "kill market" or "meat lot" or "meat processing plant" sounds horrible.  I'll give you that.  I've rescued horses from there, as you know.  Horses who turned out to be fine animals.  I can only guess that their previous owners were in a difficult situation and didn't know what else to do.  I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt when I can.

Let me tell you, a humane death in a slaughter house, which is required by law in the US and enforced by the USDA, beats the hell out of a horse starving to death.  I get mad when I receive those petitions going around about horses getting ready to go to slaughter because someone doesn't care about them.  It's why I generally don't even respond to them.

When I see these petitions, here are the questions that run through my mind:  How do you know?  How do you know the person doesn't care? How do you know their financial situation?  Do you even have any first hand information about the situation?  Or is it just something you read on Facebook?  Do you even know anything about horses?  Do you know the difficulties faced by people who rescue horses?

Maybe it's the best thing for the horses to go to slaughter instead of starving to death. That's a difficult thought even for me, but it's true.  I seriously doubt I could send a horse of mine to slaughter.  But, I've never been that desperate either, thank God.  You never know what you'll do when you're desperate.

To put a horse to sleep and then dispose of the body costs $600.  By disposal I mean either paying someone with a backhoe to come dig a hole on your farm--because that's the only way to get a big enough, deep enough hole.  Or "disposal" by taking your horse's body to an academic institution for study and then cremation.

I've chosen the second option when faced with an equine death.  No, you don't get the ashes back either.  There are no easy choices in horses sometimes.  In this economy, there are a lot of difficult choices for people and horses.

In this economy, some people can't afford these options.  So, they send the horse to slaughter.  Don't be so quick to judge.  And, definitely, don't receive my opinion on this issue as being pro-horse abuse or pro-slaughter.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I believe there is a special place in Hell for people who abuse animals, including horses.  So, don't lump me in with them for giving you the facts.  Hear me out instead.  Hear me out, especially if you claim to love horses.

Remember, I put my money where my mouth is.  I rescued three horses from a slaughter house when I bought this farm. Bringing a horse back from the condition he's in at a slaughter house takes time and money--a lot of both.  Slaughter houses don't feed them a ton of food.  They feed them enough to get by.

It took me two years to get Shadow back to what I consider a good weight.  And, I was lucky, the other two gained weight easily.  None of them appeared to have been physically or emotionally abuse.  That made my job of giving them a meaningful life much easier.  Remember, I also have a staff, time, and money.  Most people don't have any of that, yet they rush in to rescue a horse.

Helping a horse recover from abuse is even harder.  I struggled with feeling sorry for one of the horses who came with the farm.  He was the stallion I had gelded.  He was young.  He hadn't had much exposure to normal horse life. My pity didn't help him get better.  Mack, my vet, confronted me about that head on one day.  He was right.  I stopped treating that horse like a pitiful little thing.

We trained him more.  But, he'd never be a lesson horse.  He was too high strung.  That is often the case with abused horses.  They may be ok with a true horseman, but they rarely become kid horses. Horses who've recovered from abuse are rarely suitable to people with limited or no experience.

It was RW's opinion that the horse needed to leave my farm.  He was born here.  The wrong that was done to him, before I owned him, was done here.  He needed a change.  It was hard for me to accept.  I needed to let go of this horse I'd brought so far.

I knew in my mind, and eventually in my heart, that RW was right.  I asked RW find him a home with a true horseman.  In order to make this happen, I gave away an expensive, registered horse.  He was the kind of horse who comes with a DNA card--for genetic proof of what you're paying for.  That kind of expensive.  I know what I'm talking about here folks or I wouldn't be "preaching" to you.

That horse is now living a productive life in the mountains with good people.  He's a better horse for it.  He's a happier, calmer horse.

It's easy to judge me for letting that horse go.  It's easy to feel like I should have protected him the rest of his life.  Don't think I didn't give myself a going over like this, too.  As always, RW's voice of reason was important in my decision.  He helped me to stop judging myself.  He helped me to understand sometimes the best thing you can do for a horse is let him go.

It took me several months to come to this decision.  Don't think I could just let go so easily.  Don't think that others who send their horses to slaughter or to an auction or surrender them to the county let go easily either.  I'm sure some of them do.  I'm sure some of them don't care.  But, I'm sure some of them care very much.

It has taken RW 15 years to get me to understand there is a place for a "kill market."  Sometimes the horses that need to go there are dangerous.  Those horses will kill a person eventually.

At least as often, the horse who goes to slaughter comes from owners without much other choice.  They are trying to be humane, as difficult as that is for you to comprehend.  It took me 15 years to understand it. I don't expect for you to get it right away, either.

Again, do not hear this entry as my plea for slaughter or for horse abuse.  It is the furthest thing from it.  It is an acceptance that slaughter can keep horses from abuse.  It is a sad acceptance.  It is an acceptance that has become very real to me in this economy.

It is an acceptance that has come with seeing the Humane Society confiscated horses on Mack's farm.  He is the vet for the local Humane Society.  Some of those horses he can save, some he cannot.  The Humane Society finds homes for those horses once the case has been decided by a judge.

The people who take these horses have a long road ahead of them.  I hope most of them know that.  Rescuing horses is not an easy choice, just as the decision not to rescue some of them isn't an easy choice either.

I've made both choices.  I have not taken the horses in those petitions, yet I've taken the horses I've already spoken of.  My difficult decisions on both sides of the spectrum have made it easier for me not to rush to judgment.

I hope this entry will make it easier for you to keep an open mind.  If you're tempted to rescue a horse, I hope my experience tempers your passion with reason.  I hope you'll consider if you really have the time, money, and experience to do that horse a favor.  If you see a petition to save horses going to slaughter, I hope you'll think that maybe that is the humane option.

If you really do love horses, understand there is indeed a time not to rush to judgment.  This entry is in large part a response to people who pestered me to no end a few months ago.  It was about horses going to slaughter that they heard about on Facebook.

It has taken me time to give a thoughtful response.  I barked at some of you on Facebook about it at the time.  I didn't answer others of you.  This is my reasonable answer.  I hope you learn from it.

I hope it helps you to understand me more than you thought you did at the time.  For nearly all of you, it will show you a side of me you didn't know existed.  And, as I say, so many people think they know me so well, yet they don't know me at all.

I wish all horses could have the home I give my own.  They cannot.  Me taking them all in will not make it so.  It will make me broke. Everyone has their financial limits, including me.

If I succumbed to your pleas, it would eventually send these horses to an undesirable end. If I go beyond my means,  I become as desperate as the people I've asked you not to judge.  I cannot allow that to happen. Do you understand?  I hope so.

Thank you for reading.  This is one of those entries I hope you've learned from.  In this economy, it is an important lesson to understand--especially if you say you love horses.

So what was the connection to Good Friday?  What did that have to do with anything?  Good Friday teaches Christians that death is sometimes the necessary and merciful solution.

It was through Jesus' death that Christians believe they are saved, remember?  It is through death that Christians believe they will be united with Jesus in everlasting life.  I don't care if you believe that or not. I'm simply explaining the connection to you.

For horses, sometimes a merciful death is the necessary solution.  Maybe it's not when he's old or sick.  That's when it's easier for us to accept.  Maybe it simply saves him from starving to death.  Starving is a terrible death, for human or horse or any other creature.

It took me such a long time to understand that death isn't the worst thing that can happen to a creature.  Don't take as long to understand that as I did.  Don't stand in judgment of people who chose this merciful out for their horses as long as I did.  Give them the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe there is no other merciful choice?

Dry your eyes now.  It's going to be ok.  I also believe all animals have souls.  I also believe all animals go to Heaven.  If you spend your life with them, I challenge you to tell me otherwise.  You can't.

Bye, now.  I'll be spending Good Friday and Easter Sunday with my horses, my dogs, my cats, my rabbit, my beloved family and my loving Bart.  I hope you have some special creatures to spend your time with, too.

Thank you for reading.  Thank you for hearing me out.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Not Dead Yet

Hello.  No, I'm not dead yet.  I know I've missed a lot of blog entries.  Sorry.

I'm still temporarily held prisoner by an illness that has long overstayed its welcome.  If I were Chief, I would have kicked the barn down by now wanting out!  See "Magical Morning" for an explanation.

Fortunately, I wrote the entry that will post tomorrow about a month ago.  I think it's very fitting for the Christian religious day of Good Friday that is tomorrow.  It may not be easy to read; but I really hope you'll read it anyway.  It is a very important point considering the faltering economy and what it means for horses.

Thanks for hanging in there.  I'll be back on schedule soon, I hope.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Confinement

Good Tuesday afternoon everyone.  Sorry I missed you all together yesterday.  I'm still sick, of course.  Gee this is getting old.  I want to be tromping around the farm in my boots again as soon as possible!

I don't think confinement is healthy for anyone man, woman, child, or beast--and I don't mean Pip, either.  Laying around in bed or on the sofa for days on end is just not my idea of a good time.  I'd rather be riding seven or eight hours a day.  Or at least walking my average of 7 miles a day around the farm doing chores.  Not this laying around stuff. 

I think most folks feel the same way.  Or, if they are they lay around types, well, I think you'd feel better if you got out and about.  Unless of course you have some sort of disease that makes it impossible for you to get out and about.  Then, you're probably as stir crazy as I am right now!  I have a new level of sympathy for "shut ins" let me tell you!

You may remember I spoke of my stallion Sabio back in "Did You Learn Something?"  Remember Sabio had been confined the vast majority of his life.  He seemed to have adjusted to it, but I wanted him to be more like a normal horse. 

Getting outside to exercise is not only normal for horses, it's their true nature.  Horses are roaming, grazing creatures by nature.  Just think about the mustangs in New Mexico.  No one goes to round them up at night to go in a stall.  No, that's humans' idea of where to spend the night--inside.

Horses would rather be outside, no matter what the weather.  Except for extremely hot weather.  Then, they'd probably rather be outside roaming, just with more shade and a swimming hole!

In my effort to give Sabio a more normal horse existence until I sold him, I wanted him turned out every day.  But, he had to be kept separate  from the mares (girls) for obvious reasons.  He had to be kept separate from the geldings (neutered males) too.  Geldings and stallions will still fight even if though the geldings are "fixed."

So, Sabio was out by himself.  This is also not normal for horses.  They are herd animals by nature.  They are meant to be with others.  They will adjust to being alone if they are at least in sight and sound of other horses.  I tried to do that with Sabio.

Initially, Sabio kind'a liked the outside deal.  But, within a few days, he changed his mind.  Sabio started pacing up a storm.  Mack, my large animal vet, said to leave him outside that he would adjust.

Well,  Sabio paced a three foot trench around his paddock every night for about seven weeks.  My farm hands would refill it every morning.  Then, he started losing weight.  I called Mack to come out and look at him.

Mack kind'a scratched his head and said, "Well, put him back inside.  That's what he's gotten used to."

Sabio had been left inside the greater part of his eight years on this Earth.  He was taken out for 20 minutes every two weeks to exercise while his stall was cleaned.  Don't get me started on his stall!  Stalls have to be cleaned daily--not every two weeks.  

That treatment had literally changed his true nature.  He no longer wanted to roam and graze.  He no longer wanted to be with the herd.  He wanted back in his stall.

So, that's what we did.  We put Sabio in a nice clean stall with plenty of hay and water.  We talked to him as we did our daily chores in the barn.  He gained his weight back.  He calmed down again.  He was happy--nature changed and all.

I hope I don't end-up like Sabio after my confinement--broken of my true nature.  I don't think so, though.  I'm not sure they can keep me inside that long.  They surely can't keep me inside for eight years!  I've got plans before then!  Let me out!!!!!  I'm starting to feel like kicking my stall door the way Chief does!

Ok, well, I'm sure I'll get well eventually.  You stay healthy and get outside some.  It's good for you!  Let me know what it looks like out there, too!

Thanks for reading.  Have a great day.